Sunday, November 06, 2022

6: Russia

How Republicans Fed a Misinformation Loop About the Pelosi Attack Within hours of the brutal attack last month on Paul Pelosi, the husband of the speaker of the House, activists and media outlets on the right began circulating groundless claims — nearly all of them sinister, and many homophobic — casting doubt on what had happened. ........ Former President Donald J. Trump questioned whether the attack might have been staged. ....... The world’s richest man helped amplify the stories. But none of it was true. ......... The flood of falsehoods showed how ingrained misinformation has become inside the G.O.P., where the reflexive response of the rank and file — and even a few prominent figures — to anything that might cast a negative light on the right is to deflect with more fictional claims, creating a vicious cycle that muddies facts, shifts blame and minimizes violence. ........

“The conspiracy theory prompts an act of violence; that act of violence needs to be disavowed, and it can only be disavowed by more conspiracy theories, which prompts more violence.”

........ David DePape, 42, who prosecutors said broke into the Pelosi home intending to kidnap Ms. Pelosi and shatter her kneecaps, and assaulted her husband with a hammer, leaving him with a cracked skull. ........ Finding life on far-right websites and the so-called dark web, conspiracy theories and falsehoods leaped from the fringes to the mainstream. ........ “Just produce the police body cam, — why is that so hard?” Mr. Carlson demanded on his show on Wednesday night. Addressing those criticizing the conspiracy theorizing, he added: “We’re not the crazy people; you’re the liars. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, period.” .......... The disinformation surrounding the attack on Mr. Pelosi presented many of the standard elements of alt-right conspiracy theories, which relish a culture of “do your own research,” casting skepticism on official accounts, and tend to focus on lurid sexual activities or issues related to children, often driven by a fear of society becoming immoral. ......... Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert, said no amount of evidence — be it police body camera footage or anything else — could get in the way of such falsehoods in the eyes of those who do not want to believe facts. ......... If the footage was released, people would claim it was fabricated. There’s no bottom.” ........ Many of the Republicans who amplified the fiction couched their comments as jokes, effectively pre-empting any criticism by suggesting they might not be serious. Hours after the attack, Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s son, shared online a viral image of a costume that included an oversized pair of men’s briefs and a hammer, remarking “the internet remains undefeated.” .......... A spokesman for Mr. Trump said he “simply posted a joke meme and has always rejected political violence in all forms.” .......... as many as 70 percent of Republicans still believe that Mr. Trump was the true winner of the 2020 election. ......... According to federal charging documents, Mr. DePape was enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country. His online activities show him ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, seeming to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender...... His attorney has said he planned to argue that Mr. DePape was so influenced by disinformation that it should be considered a mitigating circumstance.

Wonking Out: Stealing Away the Golden Years of the Working Class

The Untold Story of ‘Russiagate’ and the Road to War in Ukraine Russia’s meddling in Trump-era politics was more directly connected to the current war than previously understood......... On the night of July 28, 2016, as Hillary Clinton was accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in Philadelphia, Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, received an urgent email from Moscow. The sender was a friend and business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik. A Russian citizen born in Soviet Ukraine, Kilimnik ran the Kyiv office of Manafort’s international consulting firm, known for bringing cutting-edge American campaign techniques to clients seeking to have their way with fragile democracies around the world. ...... Kilimnik cleared customs at Kennedy Airport at 7:43 p.m., only 77 minutes before the scheduled rendezvous at the Grand Havana Room, a Trump-world hangout atop 666 Fifth Avenue, the Manhattan office tower owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. ......... Kilimnik shared a secret plan whose significance would only become clear six years later, as Vladimir V. Putin’s invading Russian Army pushed into Ukraine........... Known loosely as the Mariupol plan, after the strategically vital port city, it called for the creation of an autonomous republic in Ukraine’s east, giving Putin effective control of the country’s industrial heartland, where Kremlin-armed, -funded and -directed “separatists” were waging a two-year-old shadow war that had left nearly 10,000 dead. The new republic’s leader would be none other than Yanukovych. The trade-off: “peace” for a broken and subservient Ukraine. .......... The scheme cut against decades of American policy promoting a free and united Ukraine ......... one important piece of Kilimnik’s biography: He was not simply a colleague; he was, U.S. officials would later assert, a Russian agent. ......... Putin’s assault on Ukraine and his attack on American democracy have until now been treated largely as two distinct story lines. ............. to view the record left behind through the blood-filtered lens of Putin’s war, now in its ninth month, is to discover a trail of underappreciated signals telegraphing the depth of his Ukrainian obsession — and the life-or-death stakes that America’s domestic travails would have for some 45 million people nearly 5,000 miles away. ............ potential payoff for the Russian president’s election meddling. .......... he pressed his revanchist mission to cement his power by restoring the Russian empire and weakening democracy globally ......... Long before the Trump-era investigations, Manafort had established himself in Washington and abroad as a grand master of the political dark arts. Together with Roger Stone, Manafort helped develop the slashing style of conservative politics, pushing “hot buttons” to rile up base voters and tar opponents. They served in Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns and started their own firm, taking on international clients seeking favor in Reagan’s Washington. The firm specialized in covering over the bloody records of dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines with copious coats of high-gloss spin, presenting them as freedom-loving democrats. ............ By 2005, Manafort had emerged as a central figure in Ukraine’s often-snakebit experiment in democracy. He was introduced to the country’s politics by one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs, the aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska. Oligarchs don’t survive in Putin’s Russia without continually proving themselves useful to the motherland. And when Putin had an urgent problem in Ukraine, Deripaska, who had various holdings there, stepped in to help: He brought in Manafort’s firm, which he had hired earlier to assist in overcoming a block on his U.S. visa, based on allegations that he had gained his position through ties to organized crime (which he denies). .......... With thousands protesting in Kyiv’s central Maidan square, Ukraine’s high court declared Yanukovych’s “victory” marred by “systemic and massive” election violations. Yushchenko then won in a new vote, a triumph of democracy known as the Orange Revolution. ......... Then, from a new office just off Maidan square, Manafort worked up a Party of Regions platform promising to make Ukraine a “bridge” between Russia and the West — by striking an economic partnership with the European Union (popular in the west) but rejecting NATO membership (popular with Russian speakers in Ukraine’s east). ........... Speech drafts and talking points, unearthed in Manafort’s criminal cases, portrayed the Orange Revolution as a “coup” and the “orange illusion.” .......... Manafort won the credit, becoming as well known in Ukrainian political circles as Karl Rove or James Carville in America. He was living the oligarch’s life, collecting jackets of python and ostrich skin, Alan Couture suits and properties in SoHo, the Hamptons, Trump Tower and brownstone Brooklyn. .......... Within weeks, claiming Yanukovych had been ousted not in a homegrown swell of democracy but in a Western-backed coup, Putin moved on Crimea and the east. To this day, Manafort, too, maintains that Maidan was essentially a coup against a duly elected president.

How Vatican II Failed Catholics — and Catholicism
The Marjorie Taylor Greene-ing of America re we ready for a pumped-up, pistol-packing Lauren Boebert? “How many AR-15s do you think Jesus would have had?” Boebert asked a crowd at a Christian campaign event in June. I’m going with none, honestly, but her answer was, “Well, he didn’t have enough to keep his government from killing him.” The Denver Post pleaded: “We beg voters in western and southern Colorado not to give Rep. Lauren Boebert their vote.” ........ The freshman representative has recently been predicting happily that we’re in the end times, “the last of the last days.” ......... And then there’s the future first female president, Kari Lake, who lulls you into believing, with her mellifluous voice, statements that seem to emanate from Lucifer. She’s dangerous because, like Donald Trump, she has real skills from her years in TV. ...... Overall, there are nearly 300 election deniers on the ballot, but they will be all too happy to accept the results if they win. ...... In Iowa on Thursday night, Trump urged the crowd to “crush the communists” at the ballot box and said that he was “very, very, very” close to deciding to “do it again.” ......... Trump, the modern Pandora, released the evil spirits swirling around us — racism, antisemitism, violence, hatred, conspiracy theories, and Trump mini-mes who should be nowhere near the levers of power.

The G.O.P. Plot Against Medicare and Social Security the push to slash major benefit programs may be the ultimate example of an elite priority completely at odds with what ordinary Americans want........ The biggest gap in views is on Social Security, where the rich, by a large margin, want to see benefits reduced while the general public, by an even larger margin, wants to see them increased. ........ life expectancy has actually declined among noncollege whites............. Republican plans to cut Medicare and Social Security would impose widespread hardship, with some of the worst impacts falling on red-state, noncollege whites — that is, the party’s most loyal base. .......... despite its populist rhetoric, the G.O.P. is still very much a party of and for the rich. ........ the expectation that the right-wing disinformation machine can obscure what the G.O.P. is up to........ They’ll threaten to provoke a global financial crisis by refusing to raise the debt limit. If Democrats defang that threat, Republicans will try to get what they want by making America ungovernable in other ways. .

We Need to Be Clear About Who Pushed Us to the Breaking Point By making the election a choice between a Democratic Party that will secure American democracy and a Republican Party that may unravel it, the argument goes, Democrats are essentially telling voters that their democracy is already lost....... The Democratic Party is, at this moment, the only viable political party with a serious commitment to free and fair elections. And in a country where power alternates between two major parties, this means

American democracy is in real trouble.

......... the Republican running for governor of Wisconsin said, for example, that “Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor”

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